Marinette has the talent to create some truly miraculous things and great talent can sometimes be accompanied by great trouble. But this might just be exactly the sort of trouble she was looking for. Miraculess AU.
"I can't do this Alya."
Marinette whined to the face of her best friend displayed on her phone screen. Sitting on the floor of her apartment, she was in the process of untangling herself from a bolt of fabric that went rogue from the others which were leaned up against the wall.
"Yes you can. I believe in you," Alya's voice cheered her on despite the tinny distortion of her phone's speaker. "You got this!"
"But I'm just an intern, I'm not supposed to be actually designing anything yet. Much less an entire outfit for Gabriel Agreste's son!"
The arm that wasn't holding her phone flailed in frustration before landing in the pile of fabric she'd gathered in her lap with a muffled plop. Alya shook her head at her friend and clicked her tongue.
"Listen, I know how you feel about gossip…" Alya began.
"But, word on the street is Gabriel does this to all of his interns. He gives them either a seemingly impossible or overly daunting task to test them," her best friend explained. "It's like his sadistic way of testing their mettle and weeding out the weak ones each year. The ones who make it through are usually first in line for a job offer."
Marinette resisted the urge to ask how Alya knew any of that, but realized she already knew the answer. Alya Césaire could get almost anyone to spill their secrets if she had enough time (and enough Euros to keep them lubricated with the beverage of their choice). It wasn't farfetched at all that she'd run into the occasional designer. Being best friends with Marinette meant she knew more industry lingo than most to strike up a conversation.
"That doesn't make me feel any better."
"It's not supposed to, Marinette. It's supposed to challenge you," Alya's face grew larger on the screen as she brought her own phone closer. "Will you rise to the occasion or will you be another designer with a sob story at the bar?"
"But this is a whole ensemble. For A-Adrien!'
She hated that she still stuttered his name, even when she wasn't anywhere in his presence. Out of everyone at the company, he was probably the least intimidating person there. And yet, she continually forgot how words worked whenever she was around him which, unfortunately, was often. Interns were usually dispatched for various reasons; running errands and fetching items as people demanded them. It seemed like her week wouldn't be complete if she wasn't tripping over her own two feet in front of Adrien at some point—at a planning meeting, before a press conference, in a random corridor—while carrying anything ranging from extension cords to memory cards to bottled water. They saw each other so often, they were on a one-sided first name basis; as in Adrien would use hers and she would rather die a slow and painful death than refer to him as anything other than 'Mr. Agreste.'
It probably didn't help that he was so damned nice about it. He would always help her up, ask if she was alright, and then proceed to make brief small talk with her. It wasn't much, the odd comment here and there about the weather, asking if she needed his help with anything and, on at least two occasions, a curious interest in the enamel pins on her denim jacket that day. She kept her answers simple for the most part, lest her words suffer the same fate as her feet, except for the one time he noticed the Jagged Stone pin she had on her lapel and she waxed excitedly about the musician for a good fifteen seconds. He didn't seem to mind and even eagerly nodded along as she spoke before her brain caught up with her mouth and she had to awkwardly tear herself away from him just to avoid getting lost in the greenness of his eyes
As far as most people at the company were concerned, she was invisible until they needed something from her. To be acknowledged by anyone, much less to be willingly engaged by them was a rare occurrence. For the acknowledging party to be the veritable poster child of the Agreste brand, well, that was high on the list of impossibilities.
"I have an incredible burnt orange and cream suit in my closet that says you're full of bullshit," Alya raised an eyebrow at her. "And I fought you on that for the longest while."
"Yeah, you said you didn't want to look like someone poured Bailey's in a shot of Cointreau," Marinette laughed.
"And now it's the best item in my wardrobe! I feel powerful, like a more confident version of myself every time I wear it and it never fails to turn heads. I have yet to be denied a story pitch when I wear that suit," she raved. "Someone's even said it makes me look 'foxy'."
Marinette rolled her eyes. "Nino's opinion does not count."
"Excuse you, his opinion is the only one that matters," Alya corrected her. "Besides yours, of course."
Alya dismissed her patronizing agreement with a wave of her hand. "Anyway, all I'm saying is that I've never seen you back down from a challenge. So, you'd better put your thinking cap on and figure out your game plan for blowing Gabriel's mind."
"I'd settle for at least a nod of recognition."
"Aim for the stars, love," Alya laughed. "Aim for the stars."
"I'll try my best, Al. Thanks."
After saying their goodbyes, Marinette tossed her phone onto the nearby coffee table and resumed gathering the runaway fabric before rolling the bolt back up. Tucking the fabric back with the others, she mulled over her problem further. Alya was right, of course. She wasn't backing down from this challenge. In fact, the more she thought about it the more fired up she became. She could totally do this. She could make an outstanding suit for Adrien; the man who stealthily invaded her fantasies to the point that she'd already picked out names for their three future children…
She couldn't do this.
Her parents would always tell her to 'find her passion' whenever she encountered the occasional moments of doubt. Unfortunately, passion—or lack thereof—was not the problem here. If anything, she was too passionate about her assignment, but not in a good way. She needed a level head about as much as she needed the assurance that she could do this project justice. A little luck wouldn't be amiss either.
That sparked a thought. Marinette heard Alya's words replaying in her head.
"I feel powerful, like a more confident version of myself every time I wear it…"
She promptly strode to the small closet in her bedroom and swam through the sea of hangars until she found the red and black peplum jacket she was looking for. It was a piece she'd made after she found several yards of a high quality polka dot printed silk and wool blend being sold at an attractively discounted price. She didn't know anyone else who would be keen on wearing such a bold pattern, so she kept it for herself. However, much like Alya's claims about her suit, Marinette also believed that this jacket was a lucky charm of sorts. It was even the jacket she wore when she was offered an internship at Gabriel.
Shrugging it on over her loose fitting pajama shirt required a few adjustments, but she buttoned it closed and walked back to where she'd left her sketchbook on the coffee table. Now that she had a very fashionable confidence boost, she settled in with a blank page and a freshly sharpened pencil and got to work.
"Mr. Agreste has approved your design and authorized you to start work on fabrication of the ensemble immediately."
Marinette stared at Gabriel's assistant, Natalie, as she stood across from her. The passing notion that this woman could secretly be a robot was never far from her mind. Official results from a Turing Test notwithstanding, the monotonous way in which she delivered the directive to her that morning certainly wasn't helping disprove that theory. The words were said so plainly, it took a full two seconds before they registered in her mind.
"Wait, he actually wants me to make it?" She finally asked in confusion. "I thought I was only supposed to provide some conceptual designs."
If the other woman had some emotional reaction to her question, there was no way anyone would know since none of her facial features moved even the tiniest bit. The only thing she did was nod once.
"That was the initial assignment, yes," the assistant confirmed. "However, Mr. Agreste said that he found your design interesting and would like to see how you make it a reality."
Marinette gulped. Was he still testing her?
"Did … did he provide a deadline?"
Natalie nodded again. "You have until the first week of next month to complete the last fitting."
"I—" she started to protest.
"The rest of your responsibilities will be divided among the other interns so you can make this your priority."
"And you will schedule Adrien's fittings through me when they are necessary."
Marinette's brain suffered the equivalent of an internal memory dump when the realization hit her that she would have to touch Adrien. Repeatedly. By the time she regained awareness of her surroundings, Natalie had already left. She stared down at the design Natalie returned to her. A note was stuck to it listing Adrien's measurements.
It was black on black on black: jacket, vest and pants creating a slim silhouette with embellishments stitched in silver thread along the seams. A narrow tie of burnished gold was the only prominent statement of color throughout, peeking out from under the black and charcoal brocade vest. She'd wanted something to bring out the greens of his eyes, but settled for an understated accent; vibrant green embroidered finishing around the buttonholes.
She already had a general idea of the fabrics she would prefer to use and putting together the base garments would take a little time, but she could get them done quickly enough. It was all the silver thread accents that would be tedious. Moreover, she had little more than three weeks to finish it, which meant she was wasting precious time she didn't have to spare with worrying. Thus, the worrying stopped abruptly and Marinette opened the planner on the laptop beside her and began plotting a timeline.
Gruelling days followed by multiple all-nighters flew by in a blur that more or less resembled a frenetic montage of fabric acquisition which then led to furious measuring, re-measuring, cutting and sewing. Fabric flew this way and that. Pre-wound bobbins of thread were lined up like soldiers ready to march and her hands were thoroughly abused and pierced by wayward pins. All social engagements were canceled and she was only scarcely aware of the fact that other people existed. By the time she scheduled the first fitting, Marinette wasn't sure if she was running on adrenaline or caffeine at that point because she sure as hell wasn't running on any kind of quality sleep.
When the day of the first fitting arrived, Marinette made sure to wear her lucky jacket as added insurance. She already knew she was going to make an ass of herself in front of Adrien, but she hoped it would at least lessen the severity of her embarrassment. It seemed to be helping as she managed to speak actual complete sentences in front of him, not to mention her usual delay of ten seconds between when he'd ask her a question and when she'd stop internally drooling at the musculature she could make out underneath his t-shirt to answer him was cut in half. She even managed to crack a weak joke. And he laughed. As far as she was concerned, that morning was starting off as a rollicking success.
Of course, that also meant that things had the potential to get much, much worse.
The downturn started the minute Adrien strode out from behind the changing screen that had been set up in the small office she was allowed to use for her project. 'Strode' technically wasn't the right term to use for the amount of swagger in the man's step when he went to look at himself in the large mirror mounted on a nearby wall, but it's probably the most applicable in this instance. Marinette, of course, just watched him move in silent awe as he turned this way and that in front of the mirror with a wild sort of smirk on his face.
"I gotta admit, my old man sure knows how to pick 'em. I think I've just found my new favorite suit."
Since when has Adrien ever referred to Gabriel as anything other than 'Father'? And why did his voice suddenly have a sultry depth to it? Marinette wondered if she'd been spirited away to some parallel dimension when she was too busy trying to find anything else to look at while Adrien was changing.
"Uh, Mr. Agreste—"
"Please, you can call me Adrien you know."
He winked at her in a way that had her honestly wondering why she wasn't swooning in every language she didn't know. What on Earth happened to the quiet, polite Adrien that entered her office earlier? It was as if he'd become someone else entirely the moment he put the suit on.
"Is there anything wrong with the fit?"
She focused hard on her main task so that she couldn't be distracted by Adrien's sudden onset flirtatiousness. It only helped in the barest sense because she then had to be subjected to watching him turn and bend and flex in the mirror as he looked over the suit with a critical eye.
"The shirt and vest are a perfect fit. Seams and stitching appear to be fine as well, but the jacket's sleeves are a bit longer than I usually wear them. You can probably bring the shoulders in a bit as well," he rattled his opinion off at top speed. "I'm sure Nathalie can provide you with more detailed instructions as to the preferred hem length on the pants."
Marinette just nodded, before she remembered what she was supposed to be doing and slipped a small pin cushion onto her wrist.
"I don't think I ever want to take this off."
"Well, unless you want to wear a poorly fitting suit, you don't have much of a choice there."
He bent down to her level as she walked around him, one hand hovering in the air and at the ready with another pin should she need it. She stopped when she noticed how close his face was to hers.
"Eager to get me out of the suit, are you?"
"So I can make the final adjustments to it and reclaim my previous sleep schedule?" She sighed. "Yes."
"I could just take it off right here," he threatened, grinning as he loosened the tie around his neck.
She almost stuck him with a pin for that, but she shrugged instead.
"Suit yourself," Marinette countered, surprised by her own nonchalant response.
"Or de-suit myself as the case may be."
He slowly worked the knot on the tie lower and lower until the entire thing fell from his neck, not once breaking eye-contact with her. She broke first, walking back to her work table and removing the pin cushion from her wrist before slamming it down on the surface and turning her harshest glare on him.
"Look, Mr. Agreste, if this is some dare or weird game of chicken, I'm not playing."
He immediately cowed, balling the tie up in both of his hands before heading over to the changing room. Were he an animal, Marinette imagined his ears would droop and his tail would've been between his legs. Her frustration pushed out of her in a loud, rasping exhale and she braced both of her hands against the table, letting her head hang low and her shoulders bunch around her ears. She stayed like that until he finished changing out of the suit.
"I left the suit on the hangers in the dressing room," a small voice came from behind her.
"That's fine," she said without bothering to turn around. "There shouldn't be a need for another fitting other than the final, but I'll let Natalie know if there is."
There was a long, drawn out silence and she wondered if he snuck out of the room without saying another word. She was tempted to look, but chose to focus on organizing her supplies instead. If she looked at him again, she didn't want to feel irrationally responsible for whatever words came out of his mouth as a result.
"And, um ... I'm sorry, Marinette. I don't know what came over me."
By the time she turned around, he'd already left. All that remained was the sound of the door closing behind him. Marinette looked about the empty room as if it would answer the myriad of questions racing through her mind. Her jacket suddenly felt too constricting and too warm. Shrugging it off to toss it over a nearby chair, she froze with the garment hanging from her now clenched fingers.
Wave after wave of emotions hit her and she nearly doubled over. She wanted to cry. She wanted to scream. She wanted to punch something. She wanted to collapse into a puddle of wistful, lovelorn sighs.
Slowly, as if it would attack her, she slipped the jacket back on and buttoned it closed. Suddenly, she was no longer the emotional wreck she'd been mere seconds before. It was like someone had taken the majority of her feelings and sealed them tightly in a jar. She frowned in thought, running her hands along the sleeves of the jacket. Thus began several minutes of Marinette taking off the jacket and putting it back on; sometimes in quick succession and other times she'd wait a while in between.
The last time she removed the jacket, she threw it across the room and picked up her phone to message Alya.
"Okay, what's with the mid-morning SOS that had me running halfway across the city?"
Alya slid into the seat across the tiny cafe table from Marinette. The other woman was already on her second cup of coffee, a stained napkin with all manner of doodles and notes scribbled on it sat half-crumpled in front of her. She stared, in a daze, at nothing in particular until Alya waved a hand in front of her face.
"You said you've never been unsuccessful when making a story pitch in that suit I made you," Marinette mumbled, still not looking at her friend. "Is that true?"
Alya made a confused noise. "That's what you called me over here to ask?"
"Is it also true that it makes you feel like a different person?"
"Mari, what's going on?"
"I don't know," she admitted, finally looking at Alya with wide, fearful eyes. "I really don't know."
The story of what happened that morning spilled from her lips faster than her brain could keep up with it and she ended up repeating parts if only to confirm with herself that she'd said them. Her best friend listened carefully to the entire thing, as a proper journalist like herself would. While Marinette felt physically exhausted by the time she finished, Alya seemed to be teeming with energy.
"I don't see what the problem is here. Maybe you've been blessed with some sort of gift that allows you to make clothes that enhance the wearer's personality," Alya shrugged then waggled her eyebrows. "Not to mention, you seem to have caught Adrien's attention."
Marinette's face burned an intense shade of red. "I can't let him wear it again. I won't be responsible for him embarrassing himself."
Alya had opened her mouth and looked like she was getting ready to disagree, when she stopped, shook her head and started again.
"Wait a minute. You've made things for me before that haven't had that effect," she pointed out. "And half of your own wardrobe are things you made for yourself."
"You're right," Marinette breathed.
"If this was caused by something you did, shouldn't every piece you've made produce the same result?" Alya pondered aloud.
Marinette only nodded along eagerly.
"So, if it's not you, then it must be—"
"The fabric!" they said in unison.
"Oh my gosh, how did I not notice that before?" Marinette wailed. "My jacket and yours and Adrien's suits were all made with fabric from the same place. I don't go there often because it's always so expensive, but I will if it's an important project or if there's a sale."
"What's the name of the place?" Alya, clearly intrigued, had her phone out and ready to search for an address.
"Fu's Fabrics. It's in the fashion district."
Alya frowned. "It's not showing up when I search for it."
"It probably wouldn't," Marinette shook her head. "It's a tiny hole-in-the-wall place that I only found because I literally stumbled upon it."
Alya grinned wide and reached across the table to take her best friend's hand in hers. "This smells like an adventure and I am five-thousand percent here for it. Take me there at once."
Checking the time on her phone, Marinette figured she could stay out a little while longer. Since she was going to the fashion district, she could always claim she was there for work-related reasons. Technically she was, after all. Besides, she needed answers and, depending on what those were, she would probably have to source some new fabric and start over from scratch.
Just when she thought she could look forward to getting some actual sleep.
The entrance to Fu's Fabrics was easily missable even when walking along the sidewalk as it was little more than an old wooden door with a tarnished rectangular brass plate on it. Marinette only noticed it after tripping over a crack in the pavement caused her shoe to become loose. When she stopped to lean against a wall and fix her shoe, she noticed the nameplate under her hand.
The door itself led to a set of stairs that took you below street level and into a modestly sized room that was filled from wall to wall with fabric in every color and texture the imagination could conceive. Beautiful, rich fabrics the likes of which she hadn't seen elsewhere. Even Alya gasped quietly in appreciation when they finally entered the shop. The petit, elderly man sitting towards the back—who Marinette assumed was the aforementioned Fu, but never confirmed—waved at her and smiled.
"Back again, Miss Dupain-Cheng," he said and Marinette instantly felt guilty for never actually learning the man's name. "What can I help you find this time?"
She looked back at Alya, hoping her friend would take the lead in asking questions, but found that she was too busy lovingly petting a bolt of green fabric. It was hard to blame her since it was a stunning emerald color and looked to be made of buttery soft silk.
"I was hoping you'd be able to help me answer some questions," she turned back towards the man with a polite smile. "I seem to be encountering some… issues with the fabric I recently bought."
He frowned in confusion but nodded. "Absolutely. Anything to help a customer."
Marinette proceeded to tell him an abbreviated version of what she'd encountered with the three pieces she'd made using fabric from his store. Alya joined her about halfway through her explanation to chime in what she could about her own experiences wearing the suit Marinette made. The old man stroked thoughtfully at his beard once they finished before answering.
"Well, it sounds to me like it's working just fine."
"You mean, it's supposed to do that!?" Marinette squeaked.
The man nodded.
"While the fabric itself does have special properties, they are only potential properties. Only someone who is equally special, who puts their whole heart into creating something incredible, can cause them to manifest," he explained. "However, they cannot dictate how it manifests. That is up to the wearer."
"It's dependent on the intuitive desire the wearer wishes to fulfill," his simple statement was accompanied by a simple nod.
"Ooh, does that mean Adrien wants to jump your bones? Hell yes, girl!"
Alya held up her hand, expecting a high-five that Marinette did not return.
"But he was so… different," Marinette frowned. "The change was so extreme. I almost couldn't believe it was him."
"Well, that is probably due to the jacket you were wearing at the time."
Marinette was in the process of trying to get Alya to lower her still raised hand when she paused. "What?"
"It's possible that your creations cause different effects when they interact with each other." The man's fingers found his beard again as he talked. "It's been known to happen."
"You're saying that my jacket caused this?"
"Only to the extent that you allowed it to happen."
"What does that even mean?" Marinette was beyond bewildered by that point.
"It means that your young man in question wouldn't have been able to attempt his advances if you weren't inherently receptive to them," he drawled. "Therefore, he recognized your interest and chose to act on it which, in turn, allowed you to recognize his. You're reacting to each other without being held back by your own self-effacement and inhibitions."
Alya raised her hand again, silently requesting a high-five with a grin that could have neatly split her face in half. Again, Marinette avoided it and, instead, tried to swat it away. This was way too much to take in at once. The colors of the fabrics surrounding them on the shelves and walls began to swirl and meld into each other and she suddenly found it hard to breathe.
What Fu said made sense. It wasn't a lie that Adrien's sudden attention had thrilled her (about as much as it terrified her). Plus, the way he immediately backed down the minute she indicated that she'd had enough of his behavior did seem rather abrupt considering how pushy he'd been only seconds prior. Even without Alya's enthusiastic hand waving, she'd realized what this meant. It was all just a little too much and her brain chose not to focus on that right then. Because all of this exposition, while informative and extremely overwhelming, could be reduced down to one simple question.
"What am I supposed to tell him?"
She didn't have as much time to ponder over that as she hoped. Sure, several days seemed like a lot of time, but when you're Marinette's brain overanalyzing every potential situation and the advantages and drawbacks therein, it's surprisingly not a lot of time at all. Therefore, the day of Adrien's final fitting arrived all too soon, leaving her petrified, underprepared and tightly buttoned into the protective shelter of her red and black jacket.
He was quieter that morning and noticeably more cautious around her. That was probably a good thing since she too was treating him with kid gloves made of carbon fiber and kevlar. They tiptoed around each other with abbreviated greetings that consisted more of awkward nods than actual words. Once Adrien was back in the suit, she watched him watch her out of the corner of his eye as she circled him, tugging here and there at parts of it until she was satisfied.
"So are you going to keep fiddling with it or are we actually going to talk about what happened last time?"
Crap. Her first plan was to avoid talking about it entirely and hope he was too embarrassed to bring it up. If he didn't bring it up, she wouldn't have to tell him anything and could claim ignorance when he eventually said something ill-advised in the presence of others while wearing the suit. The fact that he apologized meant he seemed to notice that there was something different. That was enough, wasn't it?
She deflected his question with her own. "What's there to talk about?"
"Well, for one, I believe I owe you an apology."
Were she not wearing her jacket, she was absolutely certain that the look of intense sincerity in his eyes at that moment would have caused her heart an incurable case of the hiccups. There was definitely a shudder, at least. The jacket could only do so much to protect her, especially since she apparently was receptive to his charms (thanks a lot, traitorous hormones).
"You apologized before you left. What else is there to say?"
"That my behavior was inexcusable and disrespectful?" he offered. "And I ended up making you uncomfortable."
She mulled this over for a second, then nodded in agreement.
"Amended apology accepted."
He laughed and another shudder rumbled down her spine before wobbling all the way down to her toes.
"Then, for two, I believe you owe me an explanation."
"An explanation for what?" she asked in a lame attempt to buy herself a scant few seconds.
"Come on, Marinette. You know I've never acted like this around you before and all of that changed the minute I put this on," he gestured to himself. "What's going on here?"
Well, it was worth a shot. She made her bed and now she would have to lie in it; gaudy pillow shams, itchy duvet and all. Heaving a sigh of resignation, she clasped her hands in front of her and stared at the ground. Once she had arranged the first five words she wanted to say in the proper order in her head, she redirected them to her mouth and hoped that the momentum alone would help her keep going.
She told him everything. Well, almost everything.
She conveniently left out the part about how his suit and her jacket interacted. That particular detail didn't seem prudent to share considering his previous attempts at being overtly amorous. No point in giving him extra fuel for that already raging fire. Even with her jacket on, she didn't know how much more she'd be able to withstand. When she finished, she fully expected a comment laced with whatever snark he seemed to now possess. It was a good thing she hadn't held her breath waiting for it or she would have suffocated. He just stood there looking thoughtful.
"Did you know that I don't know how to talk to you for any longer period of time than a few minutes without it sounding scripted like I'm at a groundbreaking or an awards ceremony or some philanthropic publicity event?" he sounded more like he was stating it as a fact rather than asking it. "You're a real person, Marinette. I'm almost always surrounded by fake ones that are either agreeing with everything I say or dictating every aspect of my life. I find myself at a loss around you, but you keep showing up and I keep fearing I'm going to run out of words."
"You seem to be doing just fine now."
Adrien looked down at his suit. "Yeah, and I have you to thank for that. Seriously, you shouldn't feel bad at all about this. You've given me the one thing I never thought I could have; the confidence to speak my mind without a script that's been heavily edited and vetted by three lawyers and a PR team."
"If I were you, I'd keep them on retainer just in case," Marinette warned. "At least, if our last interaction is anything to go by."
"What can I say?" He shrugged and shook his head. "You intimidate me and I panic."
Oh that was rich coming from him. She almost wanted to ask if he'd seen himself in a mirror lately when she realized how ridiculous it would've sounded. Had he forgotten who he was? Who his family was? Had he no self-awareness at all?
"I intimidate you?" Marinette pressed a hand to her chest in disbelief. "I think you have that backwards."
"Definitely not, I—wait, you're intimidated by me?"
Her responding laugh was hollow and self-deprecating. "Contrary to popular belief, I don't trip over my own feet and drop things as often as most people think."
He stared at her, confusion melting into a soft smile. "I just thought you were adorably clumsy."
"I'm not just wearing this for my health, you know," she mumbled, pulling her jacket tighter around her and trying to ignore the flare of warmth in her cheeks. "Well, I guess I technically am."
He reached out to touch the sleeve of her jacket but stopped just before his fingertips made contact. Noticing this, she held out her arm to him and closed the distance. She wondered if he was using any pressure at all when his hand finally made contact with the material as she couldn't feel anything.
"So this is really the same as mine?"
"Sort of, I suppose."
Pulling his hand away, Adrien then touched his own jacket. He did that in silence for a few seconds, just stroking his fingers along the seams and stitching. Marinette watched, almost hypnotized by the way the fabric furrowed and folded beneath his touch. Running a thumb along the cuff of one sleeve, he let out a short laugh.
"We're such a mess around each other that neither of us had any idea," he sounded almost awestruck. "We literally have to wear suits of armor just to communicate properly."
She had no idea how she even heard him over the racket of her heart throwing itself repeatedly against her chest. Looking away from him didn't seem to be helping either.
"Well, now that we've passed that hurdle," Marinette cleared her throat. "I'm going to ask you to please, please refrain from embarrassing yourself in front of your father when you wear that."
Adrien looked down at his suit. "You mean I get to keep it?"
"I was under explicit orders to make that suit just for you, so I'm not going to risk getting dismissed by taking it away. And, now you're aware of the risk you're taking by wearing it," she offered him a crooked smile. "The rest is up to you."
He held his hand up as if he were taking an oath. "I promise to be on my absolute best behavior in front of my father, Nathalie and whoever else they decide to parade me in front of for the foreseeable future."
She raised an eyebrow. "What about everyone else?"
"Eh, I'm sure I can rein it in for the most part but," he stretched out the last word, with an impish grin, "if it's you, I don't mind flirting with danger."
"I think you mean flirting with me."
"Incorrigible," he rolled the word over his tongue like he was tasting a sip of wine. "Adjective. Also synonymous with 'devastatingly handsome.'"
"That's it. Take off the suit."
Adrien feigned a gasp of shock. "You're not even going to take me out to dinner first?"
"Hmm," Marinette tilted her head to one side, placing a finger to her chin. "I'll think about it."
"If not, I'll just invite you instead."
"The suit, Adrien."
She held out her hand to demand he return it, but he just shook his head and beat a hasty retreat to the door. Sweeping one arm out, he bent low in an exaggerated bow. The motion caused his hair to tumble all over his head, transforming it into a messy mop when he stood upright again. With one hand on the doorknob, he sent her a look that nearly overflowed with a plethora of mischief.
"This was the final fitting, remember? It fits and I like it," he smoothed down only half of his hair in an attempt at mock-preening, rendering it even more ridiculous looking than it was before. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to use this entire building as my personal catwalk and tell anyone who asks about the cute intern who made it for me."
"You promised me you'd be—" Her words fell on nonexistent ears as Adrien was already gone and the door clicked shut. "—good."
Several minutes of Marinette's frustrated grumbling over his impetuousness elapsed before the realization finally dawned on her that he'd all but asked her out to dinner. Were it not for her bespotted suit of armor—as he so aptly named it—she would have melted into a puddle of panic. However, that was a worry for another time. Her first order of business was to alert Gabriel's assistant that there was a certain corporate heir running loose in the building unattended.
Said dinner actually did take place, albeit two weeks later once Marinette finally had a chance to catch up on the majority of her sleep. She didn't think he'd actually go through with it. For that matter, she didn't know how he was able to squeeze it into his planned-to-the-second daily schedule without frying Nathalie's circuits, but he just gave her a conspiratorial wink and said that he had his ways.
It was supposed to be a casual affair, she had to remind herself as she swiped a makeup brush over her cheeks. And again as she hooked an earring into her left ear while pulling a soft, flat shoe over her right heel. It was casual. It was just dinner.
But she was taking her jacket with her just in case.
I started this back in January and basically poked at it for a while. I think if I poke at it anymore, it's going to fall apart so I'm stopping here. I don't know if that's a good thing or not. I just know that I need more time to finish building my giant flower garden in Animal Crossing.
It was a fun idea that I wanted to play with so, in that respect, I regret nothing.